As I’m writing this, we’re approaching one of the most contentious federal elections in my memory. So many people seem to assume that conflict is innate and inevitable: If I’m right, then obviously you must be wrong.
Except… Life rarely exists in such exclusionary duality. Life is about “Yes, and….” Life is about an expansive, “What if—?”
We do need to take responsibility for our personal choices, and we also need to acknowledge how external factors affect not just the opportunities that are presented us, but our inner awareness of what might be possible.
Stories about self-made millionaires notwithstanding, there is a great deal of disparity in economic foundations. As just one type of example, someone whose grandparents were prevented from purchasing property because of the color of their skin is missing out on two generations worth of wealth appreciation, placing them at a deficit through no fault of their own.
Then there are the mental and emotional factors to take into consideration. People who grow up in an environment steeped in lack and insecurity are going to assimilate disempowering beliefs. This doesn’t mean that they’re lazy or can’t change; it just means that they have significantly more internal issues to overcome than someone who was raised in a supportive environment to believe that they could do anything they set their mind to.
We need to be honest in our intentions, and we also need to be aware of how our words and actions impact others—especially when those others take things very differently than we intended.
Intent matters. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have separate penalties for murder versus manslaughter. At the same time, there is a reason why they say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, because results matter, too. If someone is hurt or upset by something I say, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. As long as I know that I was honest in my heart, I’ve learned to step back from my instinctive defensiveness (because yeah, I don’t like being told that I’m insensitive and uncaring) and try to see the world and my actions through the other person’s eyes. Because if I am sincere in wanting to be a positive influence on the world, it is my responsibility to do a reality check to ensure that the results of my choices are congruent with my intentions. If they aren’t, then I need to figure out how to change my approach to be more effective.
As important as all of the above are, for myself, the most crucial dance is the partnership of Doing and Being. I have a lot of what I call “chameleon energy”: it’s very easy for me to take on Other People’s Stuff. Unfortunately, given how contentious and fearful the world seems right now, if I don’t deliberately cultivate my own inner peace and strength, it’s far too easy for me to be influenced by external factors. I used to enjoy visiting Facebook as a way to stay in touch with family members, friends, and colleagues. Now, even after ruthlessly curating whom I actively follow, it seems like 90% of my feed is yelling that I need to be Outraged and Terrified.
While I do believe in taking action to support the world I want to live in, Outrage and Terror do not motivate me. In fact, they make me want to curl up in a little ball and eat too much chocolate.* They are not aligned with who I want to Be.
In contrast, when I make sure to start my day with my morning walks, looking at the trees and sky and watching birds and smiling at my neighbors, strengthening my awareness of Love and faith and the beauty that surrounds us even in the midst of Life’s sorrows, I feel centered and grounded and open. And when I feel solid in who I am, it becomes much easier for me to recognize what is mine to do.
*Chocolate is awesome, and I realize that the idea of “too much chocolate” may be a foreign concept. It just happens to make me fuzzy-headed and dopey.
Big Bear Yoga is conducting Yoga Teacher Training with options of either online-only or hybrid (combination in-person and online.) Their next session starts November 15th. If you’re interested, email them at email@example.com or text to 310-880-8268
Dr. Cal Pramann is open for business Mon-Weds-Fri for all your holistic chiropractic needs! Call (909) 585-2400 to make an appointment. As an added benefit, if you book a session within the next few weeks, you are invited to harvest as many apples off his tree as you can carry!
Brett Hand is organizing a “Family Reiki Day” fundraiser for his non-profit Emerald Phoenix Foundation. Would anyone know of a space that could hold +/- 30 people, split into physically distanced family groups that’s available November 28th or 29th (the weekend after Thanksgiving)?
I (Rachel Heslin) was recently featured on the Guru, Please podcast talking about how to let go of Shoulds, shame, and guilt, and how shifting perspective from “blame” to “identifying contributing causes” can help break the pattern of unhealthy relationships. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and directly at https://www.guruplease.com/podcast/rachel-heslin
Words of Inspiration
Do you, too, find yourself caught up in the chaos of Other People’s Stuff? I know that there’s a lot of talk about the importance of “boundaries,” but for me, thinking in terms of “boundaries” is constricting. It cuts me off from the flow of Life and strangles my connection with Love.
Instead, I like to envision an ever-flowing fountain welling up from deep within me. Its waters are clean and clear, filling me to the brim and spilling over to spread in joyous ripples that emanate out from me, cleansing not only the impurities in my own body and spirit, but activating a vibrance in those I come into contact with. This fountain springs forth from Source itself, eternal and infinite in its abundance as it flows through me, re-invigorating my soul such that I become an instrument of Love itself, touching the hearts of those around me such that they start to feel more at ease and at peace with the world as well.
May your heart be strong and alive.
Rachel S. Heslin
President, Mountain Healing Arts Association